Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999) has one of the most recognizable rookie cards within the hobby, found in 1961-62 Fleer Basketball.
Along with the famous RC showing the player in a profile pose, there’s a second, “In Action” card showing Chamberlain on the court.
Basketball cards have been a great investment for decades, with a resurgence in interest within the hobby helping to spur values upward.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Wilt Chamberlain rookie cards, so we’ve taken the time to look at the duo in-depth.
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Wilt Chamberlain RC: In-Depth
Here’s everything you need to know about the duo of 1961-62 Fleer Basketball Wilt Chamberlain rookie cards.
The Set: 1961-62 Fleer Basketball
1961-62 Fleer Basketball was their first foray in the sport, having been predated by the likes of Topps and Panini. (Fleer had already produced sets for baseball and football, beginning way back in 1923.)
The Wilt Chamberlain rookie cards are undoubtedly the keys to the collection.
The Player: Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain holds a total of 72 NBA records, 68 individually. These include several that are considered unbreakable, such as averaging a ridiculous 22.9 rebounds for a career or 50.4 points per game in a season, scoring 100 points or 55 rebounds in a single game, scoring 65 or more points 15 times, and 50 or more points 118 times.
The Card: 1961-62 Fleer Basketball Wilt Chamberlain RC #8 (eBay)
One of the more iconic vintage basketball cards ever produced, base versions from the ‘62 Fleer set were split vertically.
It features a simple black and white profile image of Chamberlain, set against a deep burgundy background. A different red and blue color is used for the text.
As the first card in the collection, it’s seen as his true RC.
At the current time of writing, there are just 3 PSA 10 graded copies, with 31 PSA 9 grades. (Expect to pay a premium for mint versions.)
Alternatives: 1961-62 Fleer Basketball Wilt Chamberlain #47 (eBay)
The first 44 1961-62 Fleer Basketball cards are base versions, and the final 22 are “In Action” cards featuring players who also appeared in the main lineup.
It might lack the attractive color scheme seen with the card above, but it’s still a valuable collectible.
The top section is reserved for a team logo, with the bottom dedicated to a black and white image of Chamberlain as he dunks for the Philadelphia Warriors.
Some hobbyists consider the base card to be the true RC, but we think this is still a fine option to collect. It’s even rarer at higher grades, with only two PSA 10 copies, and 30 PSA 9s.
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Wilt Chamberlain RC: Values
Be prepared to pay top dollar to add one of the Chamberlain rookie cards to your collection.
Prices are down slightly from their mid-2021 high, but you’ll still have to part with a four figure fee for decent copies.
If you don’t mind the condition, a PSA 4 of the Action RC can be found for roughly $700. If the grade goes up to a 6.5, expect to pay roughly $1,400. As for the profile card, a PSA 5 recently sold for just under $6,000.
- Check prices of 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain RC (#8) on eBay
- Check prices of 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain RC (#47) on eBay
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Wilt Chamberlain RC: Summary
There are two Chamberlain RCs, but the Action card is always going to play second fiddle to the first Wilt Chamberlain rookie from the 1961-62 Fleer Basketball collection.
They were released at a similar rate, while the latter is actually rarer at higher grades.
Regardless, the market has spoken, and collectors clearly prefer the look of the red and blue release.
Chamberlain is one of the safer players to invest in as of 2022, with a long-secured legacy as one of the greatest to step onto the court. Aside from the likes of Michael Jordan, it’s hard to think of many who could claim to have done it better.